Gas fireplace inserts in Bay Area

gowelchJanuary 16, 2008


I am considering gas fireplace inserts for my two fireplaces at home. One company came by and gave me an est for a bit over $6,000 (Regency E33NG 1 and Napolen GD1-44N). This price inclues units and installation. Do you think the price is reasonable?

What if I do this project in the summer? Will I be able to get better prices?

Thanks for your input!

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We had one gas insert installed a few weeks ago here in North Carolina, and it cost over $4K, including installation, gas plumbing and electric work. I don't know what requirements are in the Bay Area, but here we needed a special chimney cap installed, which raised the price some, but not that much.

So it seems to me that $6K for 2 inserts is good, maybe even too good to be true. I would question closely about the details: Who will do the installations. How many workers will come to do it? In our case, only one (Yes, One) guy did the whole thing by himself. I thought that was stretching things a little bit, considering that when we had some light fixtures installed 2 guys showed up. The installation took more than a whole day, and it involved this sole worker climbing a ladder to the top of the chimney carrying a heavy load. Not so good.

Another thing, make sure you have a really good idea what the inserts will look like when they're in. They should not look like a retrofit. They should look like they were there from Day 1. The installation involves putting a firebox into an existing firebox. To do that they have to remove some of the visible decorative stuff that's now in the front of your fireplace and expose some ugly stuff from behind it. And then they need to put in new decorative stuff that fits (or should fit) seamlessly into your fireplace. We have a problem with ours that's still not resolved. The insert looks absolutely perfect the way it blends with the existing fireplace on the right, left, and above. However, the old firebox of our original prefab unit is raised nearly 6" above the hearth because that's where the air intake from the old blower (which we never used because they were so noisy) is located. The manufacturer of our insert (Jotul) does not supply the decorative stuff (black cast iron) to cover those old blower openings. That problem should have been identified and a means to manage it proposed BEFORE I agreed to the installation and signed on the dotted line. (Or maybe they knew but decided not to tell me.) I have now been cooling my heels for over 6 weeks waiting for the dealer to complete the installation, and I do not know whether the black iron cover he has custom ordered will look right. Ihave tried to reach the manufacturer in Maine for help in this matter. Their recorded message says they give priority to calls from their contractors and cannot promise to return retail calls, and never returned my calls. It's this kind of sloppy stuff that you have to look out for at the outset so you can head it off. I would check to see if the manufacturers of the inserts you want to install have a robust customer service capability. I think that's important. Jotul has a terrific reputation for their first quality products, but this shortcoming would prompt me to tell people to look somewhere else.

Aside from the grief this issue has caused me, we are very, very pleased with the insert. It works well and has been a source of warmth and comfort on cold evenings and early mornings. If you lived around here, I would steer you away from my installer.

Finally, I would ask for references, call them up, and ask to see examples of the work your contractor has done.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 4:08PM
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Dear haus_proud,

Thanks so much for your reply...The company we contacted was Westcoast in Redwood City. We went to check out their showroom, and liked what we saw. We will definite ask all the right questions before signing the contract.

Thanks again for taking the time to share your experience.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 6:52PM
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